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May 15, 2009

Bucky does Baltimore


I'm excited. Are you excited? Bucky might come to Baltimore to eat. Some of his restaurant choices surprised me, some didn't. I did think it was a little disingenuous of him to say he would be going to Michael's because he had a recurring dream about it. He'll be going to Michael's because of the photo of the two-pound slab of prime rib that accompanied my review. Here's guest poster Bucky. EL
It is about that time of year when we start planning our summer vacation.  The possibilities this year are varied, because Kaikala’s family is visiting here; we don’t have to make that dreary trip to the islands. 

Potential destinations at this point are (from west to east): ...

Alaska – the only state I’ve never visited.

Canyon de Chelly, Monument Valley and the Grand Canyon – For having spent all my life in the west, you would think I would have seen these three places at some point, but I haven’t.  (This would be a nice trip because it doesn’t involve getting on an airplane.)
Baltimore and environs
– I need not explain this.

Oh, before y’all start voting, I should explain that Mrs. Bucky and I have an agreement that has served us well in our marriage:  I don’t try to run her life and I don’t try to run my own, either.  Which is to say that Kaikala will decide where we go.

I have a strategy, however.
Over the course of the last year, I’ve been taking notes.  I have developed the following list of restaurants — listed in no particular order — I intend to visit when I come there. (I'm including the thing about the place that struck me sufficiently to put it on my list.)
Sander’s Corner
(for a nice breakfast on the porch, which is the best place to eat breakfast)
in Fells Point (for tamales, because there’s nothing like a good tamale)
Daniel’s (jl’s recommendation for cheeseburgers; and on the long list of things I trust jl’s judgment about, cheeseburgers rank No. 2.)
Koco’s Pub
(for top-notch crab cakes)
Michael’s Steak & Lobster
(Even though I’ve never been to Michael’s, I’ve had dreams about eating there.  Recurring dreams.  How weird is that?)
Faidley’s (for more top-notch crab cakes)
Glass Grill
(for the food and the glass art)
oZ Chophouse (not to eat, just to see the rocks in the restroom sink.  I’ll have a scotch in the bar.)
On my last night in Baltimore and its environs, I’m eating at:
(I’m not eating foie gras because it is, you know, liver.  But I’m going there to give them my support.  I’m ordering big and tipping well, since I only get to Baltimore, on average, once every 25 years or so.)
The problem should be clear to those of you who are numerically-oriented.  There are nine restaurants on the list.  Dining@Large operates on the metric system.  There are no Top Nine lists, just Top 10 lists.
Against my better judgment, I’m going to let the Sandbox determine which additional place I should add to my list.  Once the list is complete, I’m trusting Laura Lee to map me out an itinerary of places to see while traveling from restaurant to restaurant.  When this entire project is complete, I’m going to put it on PowerPoint slides and present it to Kai, to lobby her that Baltimore is the place we want to go on our summer vacation.

(Photo courtesy of the U.S. Department of the Interior; photographer, Ansel Adams)

Posted by Elizabeth Large at 12:14 PM | | Comments (50)


Bucky, I'm thrilled beyond words that you are at long last planning your trip East. Let me assure you that your trust in my ability to "map out an itinerary" is entirely misplaced. The best bet would probably be for the entire Sandbox to chime in about the various and sundry attractions in their locale.

So you've been taking notes. How organized of you.

I'll have to think about what additional restaurant should go on your list. But I would love to take Kaikala to lunch at Hooters. It's at the Inner Harbor and has a great view.

Here's a general travel tip regarding the Grand Canyon: Try not to go in August. I did. It was 115 degrees and I'm not making that up.


Skip eating at The Glass Grill and go just for the glass. You aren't missing anything on the menu. Instead head down Eastern Ave about 2 miles and go to Samos.


The Glass House and Michael's are both on the 40 bus, so you could do those in one day!

I'd vote for Chicken Rico for the 10th. I bet you don't have Peruvian charcoal chicken in the big square state. It is also a short walk from the 40 bus, although the 10 bus stops right there.

Oh, do come to Baltimore, Bucky. I'll stand you to a pint at the Hamilton Tavern. (If your good wife does not prefer beer, they serve many other wholesome beverages there.) Elizabeth has spoken well of the tavern's steamed clams in broth and their excellent burger. And if we're in luck, their chips and dip special that night will be the snmoked salmon dip.

If you go to Monument Valley say hi to John Ford's ghost for me.

If you want to support foie gras providers, go to Iron Bridge in Columbia. They've been vandalized by whack-jobs twice. I'm in the same boat as you - I don't like foie gras, but want to give the restaurants my support.

And if ricks in sinks are your thing, you should probably put oZ Chophouse at the front of your list, because rumors are that it won't be around long.

One Eyed Mike's in Fells Point. Don't read the menu, just ask about the specials. And becuase they are the Home of the World's First Grand Marnier Club. Oh, and check with the Little Italy website to see if you are here at the right time for the Friday night outdoor movies.

Hey, I can find (and figure out parking for) Hamilton Tavern which I swear looks like it used to be a dime store. I can also find Iron Bridge (which has its own parking) although the two are nowhere near each other.

BTW, I had lunch at Sander's Corner two weeks ago. I was late getting there and missed the explanation about why we weren't outside. When I asked the person next to me, all I got was an eyeroll. There were a couple of tables (not together) of people-definitely-over-50 who were very loud. We were 8 women talking and the other tables' voices were very distinct (as in, those conversations were no secret) perhaps they were all hard of hearing, but I'm guessing the acoustics are lousy. (I've never eaten inside before. Even after dark, I've been on the porch.) The service wasn't exactly stellar, either.

Hamilton Tavern is great for a pint and some snacks, besides it is on the same bus line from Koco's...not too far away.

This calls for a grand gathering of the Sandbox!

I wish that we had an inherently Baltimore iconic restaurant like Haussner's to take you to, but alas, we don't. I will have to think of someplace.

I second Zevonista's oZ note.
Pick a different restaurant and I'll meet you there with a bag of rocks.

I've never been to any of those places. My Baltimore seems to be a very different place.

jl & Zevonista - Ok, good vacation tip. I'm replacing oZ Chophouse with the Hamilton Tavern. Prof. McIntyre, I'd love to have a beer with you and talk about the Ravens chances against the Broncos, the complications of the pluperfect tense and, if they have karaoke, we can sing a little Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young.

Lissa - I bet you're right about the Peruvian chicken.

Laura Lee - Kai says she's kind of over Hooters. Twice in one month (once for trivia night and again to get a photo) is about her limit for the year.

FLIRV - A place called One-Eyed Mike's sounds like it's my kind of place. I'll have to check their website. If it comes down to that or Birches...ummm...tough call. HaHaHa. I crack myself up.

BaltBabs - I thought the Glass Grill had good beef? I'll have to re-check that...

And Dahlink - Now, you know we're mostly introverts here, right? Don't be scaring the people of the Sand...

I side with the others that nominate the Hamilton Tavern. Great food and a great "Baltimore" (not to mention Hamilton) vibe.

Heck, I might even be in the area as well, might this trip be in early September?

Koco's wouldn't be a bad place either for an iconic Baltimore experience. Now that I think of it, the Hamilton Tavern is a bit more upscale but still Baltimore-ish,(RayRay, can you believe I just typed that?) but Koco's really feels like Baltimore.

Bucky, do I know we're mostly introverts here? You do know that I work in a library, right?

Here's the distinction: Hamilton Tavern is Baltimorish, but with good beer.

Dahlink - I don't understand that. Does it mean that a lot of introverts work in libraries?

Don't give in to the stereotype, Dahlink. I've worked with a few extroverts in libraries.

I always wondered what secret perversion caused that to happen, though.

Bucky, I think your list sounds very thoughtful and you should go for it! We'll be expecting reviews though!

Lissa, yes, you will find some extroverts working in libraries, but they are likely to be found in public services, not hiding behind the scenes.

Mr Bucky and Kaikala,
I cordially invite you and other(everything has limits) so called Sandboxers, to a true B;more experience at Mr. Bill's Terrace Inn in beautiful downtown Essex. Mr. Steve may allow a group of us lees than 10 to reserve a setting area large enough. Only issue is you better like steamed crabs..cause that what the do bestest!!

Or they end up as library directors, Dahlink. Which, if they are good directors, means they work circ and ref on a regular basis, as well as schmoozing up the secretaries at city hall.

I just spent the morning and afternoon at the Essex MVA waiting for my wife's permit to be renewed. The experience was so painful that I vowed to never return to Essex; however, I might have to make an exception for Mr. Bill's.

I hear you, RoCK. That is the office that rejected my birth certificate because it had a small tear, nowhere near the text. I've never had to provide so much documentation when turning in one state's license for another before. Only place I've been where a passport isn't sufficient to prove citizenship.

RoCK - the hidden treasure of MVA s - Westminster! When you are next they won't put the "next window" sign up on you. shhhhh don't tell anybody!

It will be even worse come June 1st. The changes being inflicted by the legislature are not going to be popular.

Who was it that said "no one is safe when the legislature is in session." ? I know we're mostly introverts here? You do know that I work in a library, right?

Odd, I would never characterize my daughter-in-law-the-librarian as an introvert.

Joyce, it is funny you say that because at some point around hour 3 of my four hour wait I told my wife the next time we would drive up to Westminster. I normally use the MVA in Westminster, and I think the most I ever waited was twenty minutes.

If I could get Petit Louis, Graul's and my wife (in that order) to follow me up there, I would become Robert of Westminster.

RE: Introverts and Extroverts ... I make my living speaking in public, but I score absolutely no extrovert points on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. I have, however, learned a myriad of strategies to get time by myself to recharge my inner I so that I can fool people with my outer E. (Staying up late and catching up on the only blog I'll ever need is actually one of the strategies!)

Bucky, my suggestion -- if you go to the "four corners" -- is to skip the Grand Canyon in favor of Mesa Verde and any of the parks in Southern Utah. Much more interesting to look at, many fewer people to get in your way. Bryce Canyon may be my favorite, but the place I want to go back to and explore more: Grand Escalante.)

INTP every time I take it.

MD Canon - I've been to Mesa Verde (I lived in Southwestern Colorado) and much of Utah Canyonlands. Strikingly beautiful country, I agree.

By the way, they've just discovered (thanks to GSP technology) in the past couple of months that the Four Corners has been misplaced all these years. Now they are trying to figure out what to do with the monument.

Bucky--I heard that, too. Snicker ...

Bucky, that is funny. We have our own version here. When Mr. Mason and Mr. Dixon did their thing, their instruments were apparently a bit primitive, and they left out a triangle of land between Maryland, Pennsylvania and Delaware. It took some time to sort that out, and to force the excess land on the looser, Delaware.

they left out a triangle of land between Maryland, Pennsylvania and Delaware.

Some enterprising billionaire should have bought that triangle of land and made it his own country.

OMG ... INTJ (Duh!).

Bucky ... I heard that too. I'm thinking that slab of pink granite that marks the spot is pretty portable. (We have a family picture with each of us in a different state, thanks to a willing vendor.)

Lissa ... there is a similar lost place in the middle of Vermont called "No Town." It was still unsurveyed at the beginning of Prohibition, and therefore became a colony of taverns accessible by foot, horse, wagon and the earliest versions of snowmobiles. I've been there (during the blizzard of '78, on a snowmobile!) and you could still see the shells of the buildings.

Having gone to junior high (dates me, no?) within a couple of miles of the Mason Dixon line, I always wondered what the problem was with Wilmington that they had to screen it out with that half circle.

Oh, food ... I have had good food in all those places.

INTJ here, too.

As a Michigander, I always enjoyed the Toledo Border War, which we won. Ohio got Toledo, we got the UP.

Bucky, hon, as much as I'd like to have you visit here, you should probably go to Alaska, the only state you haven't visited, before all the glaciers melt entirely away.

Dahlink - Life may unfold into two vacations, so Rob's suggestion of a fall trip to Maryland is looking more likely.

PCB Rob,
Been away for a few days and had to catch up. In all my years on Earth, I still can't get used to Hamilton Tavern and upscale in the same sentence.:-)

fall trip to Maryland

July and August humidity do not show Baltimore in its best light.

Neither does Sept. and Oct. humidity, Eve.

I have forbidden my friends to come visit in Aug. They are welcome any other time, but Aug. is just brutal.

July and August in Baltimore is just plain disgusting for us. For someone from Denver it might seem like Hanoi on the Bay. North to Alaska, go north, the rush is on.

Eve -- I think Baltimore is in its best light today. It's beautiful out there.

We're so used to the humidity it doesn't even impress us except for August. One year I was in Disney and met a a woman from California who had been to Disneyland but wanted to see what Disneyworld was like. It was Feb or March and a lovely 75 degrees and sunny. To my amazement, she said "it's a nice park, but it's so humid here".

It was?

It could stay like this all summer, and I'd be happy. Well, with less wind, so I can go kayaking.

LOL at Lissa's comment "excess land on the looser, Delaware." Or maybe I just have a dirty mind.

I always relish a good typo, especially from someone who never hesitates to correct other people's errors.

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About this blog
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.

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